What kind of impression are you creating, in the mind of your prospective clients and customers? You might ask why image is so important. There is an old adage that says “you never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” So it is vital you get all your marketing right first time round.

First impressions REALLY matter; as soon as a prospective client or customer connects with you on your website or a social network, they start to form their initial impression of you.

If you’re like most businesses, you have limited time, money and energy to spend on your marketing. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure that your social media posts, email marketing messages and traditional print advertising grab the reader’s attention quickly and make a killer first impressions. Although throwing money and effort at your marketing messages isn’t necessarily the best way to make a good first impression.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Research your audience demographics. Doing your homework is key to making a good first impression with your marketing materials. After all, even the best email or social media post designed to impress plumbers isn’t going to have much of an impact if the majority of your customers are electricians. Time spent learning as much as you can about your customers is time well spent.

2. Invest in business directories and magazine advertising listings. In order for your stellar marketing to be effective, customers need to be able to find your office, contact details, your website and your social media pages.

3. Stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re promoting your products or services online or in print, your company won’t get noticed in the sea of other ads without a lay-out or web design that pops and grabs the readers’ attention instantly. You can do this with color. (If all of your competitors use black and white ads, perhaps you want to try orange or red.) You can do this with unusual formatting, such as using a less-often-used font, or, you can create a killer design using video, graphics and images. According to Jose Fernandez, CEO of FastKitPack, “If the customer says ‘wow’ when he looks at your design, he’s more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.”

4. Create regular, interesting content in a variety of formats. Content marketing can’t be effective if you just post a series of articles and other content and then walk away. To get results, AND to make a good first impression, you need to regularly add new, interesting content to your blog, website and/or social media pages.

Why is this important? To make a good first impression, for one thing.

A website where everything was posted on the same date looks tired and may contain out-dated references. In addition, regularly adding new, unique content is imperative to quality SEO results. Even the best content is ineffective if no one can find it.

So the moral of this story is that you can either present them with a professional image or an amateur one. The first impression you give to your prospective clients or customers, is enormously important. It’s either generating trust or generating doubt. It’s either supporting your marketing promises or destroying your marketing promises.

The bottom line: Your image is either helping your business or hurting your business. You’re losing a fortune if you neglect it.